In 1940, “New Yorker” veteran James Thurber published a children’s book — “Fables for Our Time and Famous Poems Illustrated” — in which each story ends with a crisp moral. The above quote is the moral of “The Scotty Who Knew Too Much,” a parable about a presumptuous Scottish terrier who instigates hapless run-ins with a skunk, a porcupine, and a farm dog. No one has all the answers, and Thurber posits that pretending otherwise will get you into trouble. He encourages all generations to remember that curiosity is a sign of respect, and indicates a willingness to learn, and grow, from the presence of outside perspectives.
Peace requires us to surrender our illusions of control.
Jack Kornfield is a spiritual teacher who helped introduce Buddhist practices into Western mainstream culture in the 1970s. Educated in the United States, he joined the Peace Corps and worked in tropical medicine in Southeast Asia. His travels led him to train as a Buddhist monk for several years in Thailand, India, and Myanmar (then called Burma). Upon his return to the U.S., Kornfield co-founded the Insight Meditation Society in Massachusetts and continued his studies, writing numerous books and giving talks on Buddhist philosophy. Many of his teachings focus on the need to let go of attempts to control our lives in order to reflect more deeply. In loosening our grip on a situation, we can also release the fear that surrounds it, making way for the calm that comes from acceptance.
Canadian poet, author, and performer Shane Koyczan offered this clever perspective on self-acceptance in a line from his poem “To This Day.” The anti-bullying work, which went viral in 2013, urges us to make it a practice to doggedly seek out and appreciate our best qualities. Self-love is a radical act, and we can only benefit from being kind to ourselves.
Famous for her clever aphorisms, journalist Mignon McLaughlin summarizes the nature of hope here in a simple but powerful way. When we are going through our darkest days, hope is the little ray of light that reminds us there are brighter times ahead. Hard times are not permanent, and holding on to hope that this, too, shall pass, is what gives us strength to get through them.
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